Category: Mapping

Finding depression contour lines

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Note the two depression contour lines with ticks pointing downhill

Unfortunately there currently is no automated way in ArcGIS to evaluate contour lines and select those that are depression contour lines. There are some tools in the Spatial Analyst extension such as FLOW DIRECTION, SINK and FILL which may look useful for this purpose, but in fact are designed to find small irregularities in digital elevation models (DEMs) and fix them, and thus they don’t find larger depressions, which are typically the basis for depression contour lines. Continue reading

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Gradient fills add cartographic allure

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

World K-12 Education 1

Esri’s Graphics team needed some maps for a slide for one of this year’s Users Conference presentations to show where GIS was being used in K-12 programs in the U.S. and throughout the world. I was asked to spruce up the maps for the slide and was told these maps should be really simple because everyone in the audience would be looking for their country, or in the case of the U.S., their state or city, so no text would be needed, in fact just provide TIFF files of the maps.

I joined the K-12 data to the template data that ships with ArcGIS Desktop. You can usually find this in C:Program FilesArcGISbinTemplatesData, I just used the states, countries, and world30 datasets. I was given a point shapefile for the U.S. data. Continue reading

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Cartographic Relief Presentation reissue: Answers to a few recent questions

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Gradient Cartographic - Figure 3

Almost as soon as we announced the availability of Esri Press’ reissue of the English translation of Eduard Imhof’s Cartographic Relief Presentation, we started receiving some good and interesting questions. In the nearly four-plus years it took to complete this project, a number of rumors circulated that produced some of these questions. So, here are a few of those questions and our answers:

Q: The write-up on the Esri Press page states, “This new edition of Cartographic Relief Presentation was edited for clarity and consistency,” what does that really mean?

A: The Esri Press team found and fixed issues with punctuation and grammar. They did so, only when the meaning of a given sentence was clear; if the meaning was not immediately clear, then no change was made. Continue reading

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Setting the Z Factor parameter correctly

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Z factor - Thumbnail

We set the Z-Factor parameter based on our latitude.

The Z-Factor parameter is in many Spatial Analyst and 3D Analyst tools; Hillshade and Slope are the two that I use most. Not setting the Z-Factor correctly makes the hillshades look heavy or leaden. It will also make slope values, e.g., for percent slope very small, like 0.00023% – 0.00032% instead of 1.8% to 7.2%.

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Does every map need a north arrow and scale bar?

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

World with orthographic projected coordinate system showing earthquakes

I had an interesting email conversation this morning with one of my mentors, and the subject revolved around whether all maps need a scale bar and north arrow. He was trained in the “old school” of cartography, as he admits. His cartography teacher once gave him a “D” on an assignment for “turning in a map with no stated scale, no north arrow, an inappropriate title, and no statement of where the data came from.” This sparked a conversation about whether all maps do need these map elements. Continue reading

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What is a basemap? What kind of basemap do you need?

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Base Map Data Model Layer Stack

What role do you expect a base map to play in your GIS?

Some say, “The base map is the part of the map I don’t have to make.” To that, I say, who should make it, who will use it, and what will they do with it?

Today a wide variety and diversity of base maps are proliferating with emerging Internet technologies such as mash-ups on Google Earth, ArcWeb Services, your own ArcGIS Server maps, etc. Our intent is to consider, or depending on your perspective reconsider, the functionalities that a base map, particularly a GIS base map should have. Are all these new base maps what you need? Continue reading

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Why cartographic data modeling?

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Base Map Data Model Stack - Thumbnail

One of the things we end up explaining on a fairly frequent basis is why we’ve been spending time working on data modeling, the basemap data model, cartographic data modeling, or adding cartography to the ArcGIS data models. This is as good a time and place as any to put forth what we think a cartographic data model is and share some of our reasons for working in this area.

A cartographic data model is the codification of the geographic features, attributes and processes that produce a desired map or products through specified software. This includes specification of all geographic features and labels that will appear on the maps, and their symbology. It includes allowances for the software to handle or process the data appropriately and efficiently in order to make the maps.

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Cartographic relief presentation is now available from Esri Press

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

New reissue has the same cover as the original.

Eduard Imhof’s Cartographic Relief Presentation is now available from Esri Press.

Many of us have been anxiously waiting for this book to be re-released for quite some time as Cartographic Relief Presentation is a very hard book to find – you can only rarely find a copy for sale and it has a habit of being stolen off library shelves. If you do find it for sale, it is usually at an asking price of over $300, and if you don’t read German, you have to hope that you are lucky enough to find a copy of the English translation. (The original 1965 German language version, Kartographische Geländedarstellung, was translated into English in 1982 but with only a limited press run.) The great news is that you can now get a copy of your own because Esri Press has re-published the English version. Continue reading

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Graphs in ArcMap Version 9.2

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

For thematic and analytical maps, it is often helpful to give readers an idea of the statistical nature of the attribute data. Graphs are an effective way to give readers another window into the data. Before version 9.2, ArcMap’s graphing functionality was rather limited. At version 9.2, it is quite possible that nearly any graph you want to make can be created in ArcMap.

The user interface is new, and you now have the ability to make more choices, such as the selection of any color, including those that you have already chosen for the layers in your map (figure 1). Graphs can be bars, columns, XY scatter plots, lines, areas, pies, and box plots. Any graph can be two- or three dimensional, and any property can be customized. Continue reading

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Representations and thematic maps

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Representations - thumbnail

This blog entry addresses one of the new features in the ArcGIS mapmakers’ suite of tools. At version 9.2, we added the ability to store representations in your geodatabase; this has wide ranging possibilities for map makers and data publishers. You will definitely be seeing more blog entries about other uses of representations in the coming months. Continue reading

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